”My whole success is I’ve always been designing for people, first because I wanted to sell them merchandise. Then when I got into hotels, I had to rethink, what am I selling now? You’re selling a good time.“ ~ Morris Lapidus
Hello, it’s Erika from small shop, with a new edition of “Design Under the Influence!” Last week I had the opportunity to go to Miami for the first time, and I could not wait to see the $1B renovation of the famous Fontainebleau Hotel. Originally designed in the 1950’s by architect Morris Lapidus (he also designed the Eden Roc and the old Americana Hotel), it was once called ”the nation’s grossest national product.” Now however, it is the #1 hot spot in Miami Beach! So, I thought it would be fun to celebrate the man credited for creating the Miami Baroque style we all know and (now) love.
In a time when America was experiencing a post-war boom, Lapidus sought to break away from the more modest, unembellished Bauhaus style that was popular in the architecture world to produce works that allowed people to show off their newly-acquired wealth. Even though his work was criticized as being vulgar, obscene and kitschy, Lapidus relished in the pretentious with sexy lounges, curvilinear pools and grand staircases, ultra-plush seating, dramatic canopies and atriums. He designed both interior and exterior, at every turn pampering and indulging guests — like putting live alligators in the lobby of the Americana, or creating a lavishly grand staircase in the Fontainebleau that led to a coat room so that guests could strut their stuff down the steps in full view. And despite the critics, Rat Pack-ers and Jet Setters alike would happily flock to his flamboyant playgrounds.
If you haven’t seen it in person, you may recognize the Fontainebleau from the James Bond flick Goldfinger (1964). Let this short trailer give you the gist:
Appropriately enough, Lapidus titled his autobiography, Too Much is Never Enough. He passed away in 2001, after a prolific career that spanned five decades, and included designs for over 1200 residential, hospitality and retail projects around the world. He even lived long enough to help restore a few of his own works (how cool is that?), and pick up an American Original Award from the Cooper-Hewitt in 2000.
Today, we celebrate his sumptuous style, can’t wait to escape to the exuberance; contemporary designers such as Rem Koolhaas and Philippe Starck refer to his work with much respect. Lately he is even being heralded as “a postmodernist long before the term existed.”
What a legacy he leaves behind.